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The Paralyzing Paradox of All Skin Folk Ain't Kinfolk
July 1, 2023 at 4:00 AM
by Craig C. Martin
skinfolk aint kinfolk craig martin.png

Even when you have skin folk in the room of privilege and power, it doesn't always result in a bend of MLK's moral arc toward racial justice.

Early in his development, Justice Thomas did not receive enough of that life-giving tough love nurturing of a no-nonsense Ma'Dear. And we are watching America trying to erase us once again.

What's gutturally tough for some of us skin folk is watching Justices Brown and Thomas going head to head on issues and cases that push Black and Brown progressions back decades.

"No one benefits from ignorance. Although formal race-linked legal barriers are gone, race still matters to the lived experiences of all Americans in innumerable ways, and today's ruling makes things worse, not better," retorts Justice Brown to the 6-3 ruling.

"Rather than focusing on individuals as individuals, her dissent focuses on the historical subjugation of black Americans, invoking statistical racial gaps to argue in favor of defining and categorizing individuals by their race," Thomas wrote.

"As she sees things, we are all inexorably trapped in a fundamentally racist society, with the original sin of slavery and the historical subjugation of black Americans still determining our lives today ... I strongly disagree," responds, Justice Thomas.

The SCOTUS decision on affirmative action belies a runway of additional cases on voting, immigration policies, and more that we need to pay close attention to.

I personally am experiencing an internal reckoning as a Black American in seeing Justices Brown & Thomas herald to heights unknown for so many of us yet find themselves at war with ideals and philosophies that are life and death to all of us regardless of whether we identify as skin folk or kinfolk. 

W.E.B. DuBois, American sociologist, socialist, and Pan African Civil rights activist, posits that racial reckoning I and others are navigating as “ a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness… one ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two un-reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder”.

It's going to take a lot for me to NOT side-eye Clarence and all of his Uncle Tom kinfolk. I wish they got the Black Love (When the whole world's against me, I know I got your love [Big Mama by LL Cool J]) they needed. No matter what comes next, history shows us that every valley moment leads to peaks of liberation and justice. 

Keep Breathing.

Keep Voting.

Stay Praying.

Keep making Good Trouble.


Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon' be alright

I keep my head up high

I cross my heart and hope to die

Lovin' me is complicated

Too afraid of a lot of changes

I'm alright and you're a favorite

Dark nights in my prayers

I remembered you was conflicted

Misusing your influence, sometimes I did the same

Abusing my power full of resentment

Resentment that turned into a deep depression

Found myself screamin' in the hotel room

I didn't wanna self destruct, the evils of Lucy was all around me

So I went runnin' for answers

--Kendrick Lamar, Alright 2015


Du Bois, W. E. B., excerpt from “The souls of Black folk: essays and sketches,” Digital Public Library of America,

Kendrick Lamar – Alright. Genius. (n.d.-a).

LL Cool J (ft.Dru Hill) – big mama (unconditional love). Genius. (n.d.).

Mujica, C. A., &; Bridges, A. J. (2023). What do people of color believe about racism and discrimination based on an ingroup/outgroup distinction of the perpetrator? SpringerBriefs in Psychology, 41–49.

NBCUniversal News Group. (2023, May 25). Tracking Major Supreme Court cases.

Totenberg, N. (2023, June 29). Supreme Court Guts Affirmative Action, effectively ending race-conscious admissions. NPR.

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